I’m no believer in the afterlife. There’s just no reason to think that there’s anything after you die. Like a candle being snuffed out, your consciousness doesn’t “go” anywhere. It just disappears. But it’s interesting to think about being reborn. Every one of us is born into his/her situation by pure luck – or bad luck. In my case, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I have no genetic diseases that I know of, have no financial problems, was born into a family that provided me with an education that enables me to live a relaxed life. Taking things further, I was even lucky to have English as a first language. So many people struggle to speak it well and it just came to me on its own. With no effort.
And yet for most of the world’s population suffering is the norm, not the exception. Within the human species itself, people like me are within a hair’s breadth of the most well off people on the planet. Half a hair’s breadth! It’s not just a question of money. I have no worries, no responsibilities, no kids…nothing. There are beggars born in places like India and starving kids all over Africa. I could have been born a woman in the Middle East or some other deeply Islamic country. And why talk of the present alone? What if I was a slave hundreds of years ago? Or a female slave? There are women even now whose lives are an unmitigated horror.
And what of the suffering we inflict on billions of animals every year? Cows, chickens, dolphins, pigs, dogs and a multitude of other creatures live in hell every day to feed us. The last thing I want is to be born as a calf in a slaughterhouse. Imagine never being allowed to stand so that my muscles become soft just to get the right taste.
And humanity is just the tip of the iceberg. Creatures in the natural world have their own share of unimaginable suffering. Spider wasps paralyze their prey so that their eggs can hatch and burrow inside it and literally eat it alive from the inside out. It saves the organs for the last to keep the spider alive as long as possible. While none of this is malicious, suffering in nature is horrendous on an epic scale. It would be so easy to have been born an insect. There are 100 million of them for each human being on earth! The chances of me being born a human are abysmally low.
Which leads me to my main question – do I even want be reborn (if possible) after I die? Given the fact that I have no choice about the kind of organism I’m born as, I would rather remain dead. Chances are that I’ll lead a shitty and pain filled life before dying a miserable death. This current life of mine is the only one I want to live!